Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tooting My Own Horn

Go in the archives and look at my "Manny Will be Traded" post from a few weeks ago. Now who's the f***ing man. Not exactly the same but pretty freakin' close. Read more!

Cheapskate Marlins

So Peter Gammons is saying that the deal got hung up because the Marlins wanted not only Manny Ramirez, a prospect, and 7 million dollars to pay Manny's Salary for the rest of the year, they also wanted an extra two million dollars. You got to be kidding me, it would essentially meant that we would trade all that for Jason Bay, I like Jason Bay but that is ridiculous. The Marlins are out of control, they only have a 22 million dollar pay roll, they got 25 million dollars in revenue sharing last year. So think about it, the Marlins don't need a media deal, advertising, etc, they can pay the team just onthe money that teams like the Sox and Yankees pay. They are going to kill an entire deal because they Sox won't give them more to take a sure fire Hall of Famer for the remainder of the season. Read more!

Deal is Dead

Apparently the deal is dead we are stuck with Manny for the rest of the season. Read more!

Status Report and the Palm Beach paper are reporting that the trade is done it is just coming down to discussions about which prospects are to be included in the deal. Read more!

The Day has Arrived

Welcome to Deadline day people, there are rumors flying around everywhere and we shall see if Theo shakes up the team by dealing Manny just like he did in 2004 with Nomar. I will be posting as soon as I see anything about my reaction to any trade, or I will post at 4 very disappointed that Manny is still in a Red Sox uniform. Read more!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I never thought I would say this...

I am hoping that by 4 PM tomorrow that Manny Ramirez is no longer a member of the Boston REd Sox, his quotes today to ESPN Deportes were absolutely ridiculous. You would think that in his time here that he would have gotten it. We like players that hustle there is a reason that players like Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek are fan favorites. I can't wait till his lazy ass is in another city whether it is after the season or after tomorrow. And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Red Sox Deadline History

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, the clock has not started on yet, oh wait nevermind it has on the MLB page, we are roughly one day away from another trade deadline. I have been reading all the rumors, you know that Sox aren't going to trade Manny, there is a rumor out there that they are talking to Houston about Tejada which would be great, even though Miggy has slowed down he is a good short term solution while Lowrie gets his legs under himself at short, as long as Lugo finds his way out of town at the same time. Anyway with the rumor mill fairly quiet right now since two of the biggest pitchers were traded weeks ago I thought I would go over some Red Sox Deadline deals over the years.

Red Sox got: Larry Anderson
Astros got: Jeff Bagwell

This is the one you always here about, I was young at the time and I had no idea who Jeff Bagwell was, and the thing is if he had stayed in the Red Sox farm system there is a chance I still wouldn't know who he is. The thing most people forget is that Bagwell played third base, he was blocked by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, and was competing with two highly touted prospects in Scott "Two time all star" Cooper, and Tim Naehring. You also need to remember that Anderson came in and dominated in relief, he appeared in 15 games, 22 innings, had 25 K's, and had an ERA of 1.23. Looking back you always have 20/20 vision.

Red Sox got: Darren Bragg
Mariners got: Jamie Moyer

Wow I had forgotten about this one until I did a little research, Moyer who is was only 33 at the time, was 7-1 with 4.50 ERA when the Sox traded him after less than a season in Boston. Granted that team wasn't one of the better teams as they finished 85-77 and finished third in the AL East behind the Orioles and Yankees. Bragg went on to play 2 1/2 years with the sox where he hit, .263, with 20 HR, and 136 RBIs. Moyer on the other hand ended up playing almost 9 years with the Mariners, and won 145 games.

Red Sox got: Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe
Mariners got: Heathcliff Slocumb

A trade that will go down in Red Sox lore as one of the greatest rip offs of all time, we certainly got Seattle back for trading us Darren Bragg and unleashing Starbucks on the world. Jason Varitek is the heart and soul of the two Red Sox world series teams, he is a three time all star, and has caught 4 no hitters for 4 different pitchers. One of those No hitters was thrown by Lowe back in 2002, it was April 27th I remember the day well I was in a toy store parking lot with my roommate Matt Pfiel buying water balloons. Anyway Lowe left after the 2004 World Series after a disappointing year, although he did come through in the playoffs winning every one of the deciding games after almost being left off the roster. Heathcliff on the other hand all but disappeared from baseball after the trade he played with Seattle, Baltimore, St. Louis, and San Diego before retiring.

Red Sox got: Ugueth Urbina
Expos got: Tomo Ohka, Rich Rundles

Good old Uggie Urbina. The eptimy of the crazy foreigner, in case you didn't know Urbina is currently rotting in jail after he was convicted in his home country for attempted murder, he should be there for at least 10 more years. The Tigers are still waiting for him to report to training camp. Anyway Urbina was needed after closer Derek Lowe had a mental breakdown which he is famous for. Urbina lasted until 2002 when he left to pitch for Texas and then won a World Series with the Marlins. Ohka on the other hand was a revered prospect after he threw a perfect game in Pawtucket in 2000, that would appear to be his career highlight, that or the episode of the Simpsons where Bart yells "Look at me! I'm Tamokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!". Anyway he is at best in the minors now as I cannot find any stats for him for this year. Rundles on the other hand has never made it to the majors although he just recently played in the Triple A all star game so who knows he still may get his chance.

Red Sox got: Cliff FLoyd
Expos got: Seung Jun Song, Sun Woo Kim

For some reason I was really excited about this trade, Floyd came in and hit 7 HR, and hit .316, and then proceeded to sign with the New York Mets the following season. Sun Woo Kim of course all but disappeared, he managed to play for the Expos for awhile, and then Colorado and Cincinnati, but that was two years ago. As for Seung, he maybe a music star at this point when I typed him in to google song lyrics came up, after scrolling down a little it turns out he ended up back in Korea where he plays for the mighty Hyundai Unicorns.

Red Sox got: Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mienkiewicz
Cubs got: Nomar Garciaparra, Matt Murton
Expos got: Brendan Harris, Alex Gonzalez, Francis Beltran
Twins got: Justin Jones

I am not going to go over this one player by, there are to many, I remember when I heard about this trade I was working at a summer camp in Maine, the internet wasn't working and I instead had to rely on the radio in my car that barely picked up Sporting News Radio out of Portland and told me that Nomar was gone. I of course ran into the dinning hall to tell Ricki who freaked out, it was actually fairly entertaining, Ricki is entertaining most of the time but she is really entertaining when she flips out. This was a great trade, it eliminated the Cancer in the clubhouse added two good quality guys, granted neither one of them wore a Red Sox uniform in 2005 but they got the job done.

Red Sox got: Dave Roberts
Dodgers got: Henri Stanley

This trade at the time completely flew under the radar, I mean who cares they just traded a minor league for a fourth outfielder, especially since it came at the same time that the Sox shipped the face of the franchise to Chicago. No one came up bigger in the ALCS though as he stole second and helped rattle Rivera, and eventually scored on a Bill Mueller single to tie the game which the Sox won in the 12th. The Red Sox would not lose again that post season. Henri Stanley is now in independent ball, I hope they at least sent him a ring for all he did.

Red Sox got: Eric Gagne
Rangers got: Kason Gabbard, David Murphy, and Engle Beltre

Worst trade ever, I can say that because it is so fresh in my mind. I remember questioning it at the time and being disappointed because I liked what I saw of David Murphy. Gagne imploded when he came to Boston, he pitched in 20 games, gave up 26 hits, and had an ERA of 6.75. We wont he world series in spite of him. Murphy on the other hand has become a solid starter in Texas where he roams the outfield with Milton Bradley, and Josh Hamilton. He is hitting .265, with 14 Homeruns and 67 RBIs. He may not have had a place in Boston but something tells me we are going to be looking for someone to play left field next season

So for now we will wait and see what will happen this season with the Sox, there have been a alot of rumors but alot of the really big names are off the market at this point,. I would really like to see them bolster there bullpen and see if they can turns things around a little. That is all for now.
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...And A Half Dozen Thoughts for Good Measure

1) While perusing a list of available, unrestricted free agents on, one name caught my eye who may actually be a fit with the Celtics. That name? Jason Williams. No, not murdering Jason Williams. Nooo, not motorcycle riding Jason Williams. The other Jason Williams. White Chocolate. As much as I genuinely do not like players who are poor shooters (.396 FG% for his career) with poor shot selection I actually think he could be a match for the Celtics bench.

Consider this....

He can dribble. Seriously. A main rationale for giving Cassell minutes over Eddie House was the fact that Cassell could handle being pressured while Eddie House could not. Jason Williams fixes this problem. And because he is actually a point guard that can pass, he gives them a semblance of a playmaker off their bench. I'm not saying he is anything close to what he was in his prime but at least he would be a guy who could come off the bench and create offense for other people. They had officially zero of that last year. And isn't that of added importance when the other key reserves (Eddie House, Tony Allen, Big Baby, and Leon Powe) figure to be guys who can't and don't create their own shot? Of course it is. I really think everybody would benefit there. Plus, all the bricks he would put up would provide for great garbage points opportunities for Leon Powe and that is his specialty. Are you intrigued yet?

2) With Bartolo Colon nearing a return, wouldn't it make sense to go the Justin Masterson route and put Clay Bucholz in the bullpen as well? Right now I think the returns would be roughly the same between starting Bucholz and starting Colon every fifth day so may as well try and add another young, quality arm to the pen because the less Craig Hansen, David Aardsma, and Mike Timlin we see, the better.

As a point of reference, for Clay Bucholz, look how the Dodgers handled their young, hot-shot pitching prospect Chad Billingsley who made his major league debut in 2006:

In 2006 Billingsley made 18 appearances, 16 of them starts and pitched 90 innings with a 4.49 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. He also struckout 59 while walking 58. At the time though he was just 22 so while the results were not dazzling, he at least held his own at age 22 in the big leagues.

The following year, in 2007 when Billingsley was 23 they started him out in the bullpen and kept him there until late June. Overall he made 23 relief appearances and 20 starts. As a reliever he struckout 40 in 35 innings and walked 13. He also had a 3.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Pretty nice for a reliever who could give you more than just an inning.

When he joined the Dodgers rotation on 6/21/07, he pitched 112 innings the rest of the way going 8-5 with 101 strikeouts to 54 walks (a little on the high side but you like the K numbers) and a 3.38 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. Sure the walks are higher than you'd want but the rest of the numbers are pretty appealing for a 23 year old pitcher.

And this year? This year, Billingsley is 10-9 in 21 starts and 129.2 IP. He has a 3.26 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. More amazing than that though are the 137 Ks he has registered. Yes, he has still walked 56 batters and walks more batters than you'd like - almost 4 per 9 innings - but again he is 24 now and in looking at those stats probably well on his way to having a really nice career assuming health.

Look, I'm not saying that Bucholz and Chad Billingsley are the same player, but what I am saying is that a temporary transition to the bullpen for him for the rest of this year and maybe even a bit next year could potentially do him a lot of good. The tactic certainly worked well for Billingsley and with a seemingly equal fifth starter replacement about to become available in Bartolo Colon I think the experiment is well worth a try especially because it could be beneficial both in the present and future.

3) Conventional wisdom says that Mark Texiera makes the Angels now prohibitive favorites to win the World Series. I'm not one to disagree. However, there is a big difference between favorites in late July or early August and the favorite in October. Right now, I'd be willing to wager a fairly significant amount of money that the Angels will wind up with the best record in the AL. Because of this, they'll face the Wild Card winner in the first round and my guess is that will be an AL East team, either the Red Sox, Yankees, or Rays. All of these matchups would be interesting in their own right. The Angels seem to own the Yankees in October - beat them in '02 and '05 - and are owned by the Red Sox - swept in '04 and '07 - so recent history says that both of those potential showdowns would feature teams trying to exorcise recent demons. That is always fun. To me though, the most intriguing of these three likely matchups would be the Angels against the Rays because the two teams seem to be mirror images of each other as they are based around pitching, defense, and "non-traditional" (read fast) offense. Yes, Texiera gives the Angels a second dynamic force for their lineup which will help a ton, but they still should be at their core the ultra-aggressive and "small-ball" style team we have known since 2002. With all of this being said, I could still see the Angels losing a playoff series against any of these three teams as easily as I could see them winning one. Once again, there is a big difference between being the favorites in August and the favorites in October.

4) I am not particularly enamored with the current Red Sox team as they can't seem to beat good teams. Of course I said the exact same thing last year and I think that that squad was even more maddening during their June through late September malaise. I've said this all before here though and I keep on harping on it just because let's not all go flushing the season down the toilet just because the team looks like crap right now. October can change a lot. Or it could change nothing like in 2005. We'll see. But do you think that White Sox series turns out different that year if Tony Graffanino doesn't make that error to open the flood gates in Game 2? Who knows. Probably not honestly, but something to think on regardless.

5) This is kind of crazy, but if you were to ask me right now which pitcher in the AL I'd least like to see the Red Sox facing in a do-or-die playoff or late season game do you know who I'd say? Tampa Bay's Matt Garza. No joke. Since the start of May, Garza is 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA, 1.13 ERA, and 74 Ks in 111 IP. Those numbers are very good, but not outstanding. Still, there is just something about that guy that I think is special and I bet if you put him on the postseason stage you would find that he has the Josh Beckett, Big Game Gene. I could be wrong, but it's a strong hunch.

6) The Globe's Mike Reiss' training camp dispatches on are absolutely must reads for Pats fans. Reading this though frustrated me. Doesn't this absolutely sum up the whole Ben Watson Experience to date:

3) Benjamin Watson can’t haul it in. Some of the day’s best work came in 11-on-11 drills with the Patriots forgoing a huddle and working in hurry-up mode. With 27 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock, Brady surveyed the field and lofted a beautiful pass down the middle to tight end Benjamin Watson, who had a step on rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo into the end zone. Watson got his hands on the ball, but while offensive players and coaches up the field prematurely put their arms in the air to signal touchdown, the ball came loose as Watson crashed to the ground. Had Watson made the catch, it would have been considered a tough one. At the same time, it’s the type of grab that top-tier tight ends do come down with.

You can read all of these aforementioned dispatches here.

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Taking My Temperature

On a scale of 1-10, my feelings on a bunch of issues:

Excitement level for the Olympics 1

Amount I care about Brett Favre 1

Desire to see him come back for a random team and absolutely suck 10

Is Brett Favre the most overrated athlete of my lifetime? 10

Peter King 1

Excitement level for the start of the Pats season 8

Amount I care about what town ESPN dubs "Titletown" 0

At least it is not "Who is Now" 10

Strength of my convictions that the Sox can win the World Series 6

Desire to see Manny traded 5

Excitement of having Big Papi back in the lineup 9

Confidence in Dice-K on a start-to-start basis 4

Confidence in Jon Lester on a start-to-start basis 8

Confidence in Josh Beckett on a start-to-start basis 7

Confidence that Laurence Maroney can put up 1,500+ total yards 6

Thoghts on Wes Welker leading the Pats in receptions and receiving yards 6

Will Randy Moss have 1,500 receiving yards and 15 TDs? 6

Will Randy Moss have 1,200 receiving yards and 12 TDs? 9

Will Tampa Bay hold onto win the AL East? 4

Will both the Yankees and Sox make the playoffs for the 5th time in 6 years? 9

Will the Sox win back-to-back AL East titles for the first time in my lifetime? 7 Read more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

The local sports world is flooded with talk of the ongoing Manny saga right now. Here at Rootbeer & Bacon it's well worn territory. All of our loyal readers know where I stand, and if you missed some posts, just click the links over to the left and educate yourself, because I am not interested in talking about Manny Right now. Why, you ask? Because football training camp is in full swing baby! By now just about every team is in camp and rosters for the upcoming season are starting to take shape, which means we can start talking about the Patriots on the field instead of them just getting arrested.

Tomorrow I am venturing down to training camp for the first time and wanted to point out some of the things I am going to be looking for. Some are obvious, and others not so much. But, look for a full report and some pictures in the coming days. Keep in mind that these are in no real order:

-Do the Pats have a shutdown corner?
I am not sure that I will get an answer to this one tomorrow as I think that the coaching staff are asking themselves the same question. Early reports out of camp say that Fernando Bryant has been able to keep pace with Randy Moss on occasion, but that in no way means that he is the man for the job. In all of years in Detroit he never emerged as a shutdown guy, but come on...he was playing for the lions....Did they draft a WR in the first round this year, because I heard they were thin at that position...

-Will I like Mayo with my Bruschi?
I know, I know it's a terrible pun, but get used to them, I will be dropping them all season. Expecting this guy to be the second coming of Tedy is unfair and unlikely, but he sounds like he could be the real deal. He is the guy I am most interested in seeing tomorrow.

-Will the addition of Dom Capers change the way the defense operates?
This one of the not-so-obvious things that the casual fan might miss. Capers is the former head coach of the Texans, and is now the secondary coach for the Patriots. I was so surprised when I heard he took the job, at the very least I figured he would land as a defensive coordinator somewhere, and I cannot help but wonder if promises were made for the future to lure him here. Either way, traditionally Belichick's defense has been anchored on gap control and play diagnosis. Meaning, it was up the the defensive line to hold the line and figure out if it was a run or a pass, then react. We all know that this has been effective, very effective. Capers is a guy who made his bones by running a defense that was far more aggressive in putting pressure on the QB and on the secondary jumping routes and generally playing a more aggressive style of football. Did Bill bring in Capers to counteract his style? Does he feel his defense needs more "pinache?" I dont know, but I know that one guy who could really shine in a more aggressive system is #75, Vince Wilfork. Anyone who remembers his days at the U in Miami remembers that was a huge playmaker in the backfield, his whole style was about bursting through the offensive line and demolishing running backs before they got to the line. In New England, he had to change that quite a bit, and I think that it would be awesome to see him with the leash off.

-Where does Lamont Jordan fit in?
If Sammy Morris was still hurt, or cut I would not be asking this question. But Morris seems to be healthy and even got an offseason workout award, complete with parking spot. So why bring in another change of pace back? I don't know but I can't wait to find out.

-Will Randy Moss continue to impress me with his clothing choices?
I am still hoping he shows up in a shirt with a giant picture of Tupac on it. You know he owns one, and if he needs another they have about 15 of em at Marshalls.

Again, the baby is crying so I am out. Look for a follow up in a day or so...


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just Throwing It Out There...

Jed Lowrie looks like an evil prep school kid from an 80's movie. Read more!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on Manny...

I hate to keep harping on the thing but the more time passes, the more convinced I become that Manny will be traded. I still say the Diamondbacks make the most sense.

Would the team be better without Manny? Probably not, but if they could find an at least suitable replacement option for him - basically anybody that would give them more than Coco Crisp or Brandon Moss - then I think the trigger will be pulled. Of course I'd rather Manny stick around, but right now between the John Henry bashing and the all of a sudden sore knee it seems as if he is doing everything in his power to tick off his bosses and force his way out of town. I'm probably over-stating things some here, but when you consider that right now it seems like this will be his last year in Boston, it all of a sudden makes a whole lot of sense to at least gauge the market for him. Especially when the most likely and best case scenario trading partner, the Diamondbacks is a team run by Theo's old assistant GM. I'm just sayin' you know... Read more!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Dozen Thoughts...

1) Well for the 15th or whatever straight year, I have not heard one person drop a, "So, did you see the ESPYs Sunday night?!" on me. Time to give them up ESPN. Nobody cares.

2) Even with much of Bob Lobel's now infamous WEEI rant being discredited I still stand by my belief that Manny will get traded and his destination will be Arizona. Let's not forget that Arizona's GM, Josh Byrnes is the former RHM (right-hand-man) of Theo either.

3) Can't really say I'm a big fan of the Red Sox turning into the Celtics of the first month of the playoffs. This lose every game on the road/win every game at home business gets tiring.

4) The Sox will take two of three in Seattle and then come home and sweep the Yankees with a major assist from the Return of Big Papi.

5) The Celtics resigned Tony Allen. Awesome. I guess they kind of had to with the departure of James Posey, but still....

6) At least Eddie House is coming back though!

7) If you were to ask me on a scale of 1-10 how much I think the Pats will miss Asante Samuel this year with 1 being not at all and 10 being their defense will self-destruct without him I think I'd put the number at a solid 6. I think he'll be missed but not to a huge extent and I do NOT think he would have been worth the money to re-sign.

8) Put me in the "no thanks" on Huston Street club. He's a relatively big name because he was hyped coming out of college, has a great name, and won a Rookie of the Year award, but I just don't trust him. I understand his numbers across the board are pretty good for his career - strikes out about a batter an inning, ERA under 3, WHIP a touch over 1 - but I am still not sold. I had him on one of my fantasy teams a few years back and he was a shaky saves machine. I'm not sure how that would transfer to the setup role. Furthermore, while I think he would be an upgrade over the Delcarmen/Hansen two-headed monster, I do not think it would be a demonstrative step up and how he would handle moving from closer to setup man heading into arbitration next year is another valid question. The guy would be giving up some serious cash in making that move and while he does not have a no-trade clause, you certainly don't want a potentially unhappy reliever pitching important innings.

9) If you want a rundown of the sports stories in DC these days, I can give it to you pretty easily; the Redskins. Oh, and now with Jason Taylor on board they will of course go 16-0, set a few defensive records, and handily win the Super Bowl. That is what people around here think at least. Redskins fans are INSANE. There is really nobody like them.

Nobody cares about the Nationals.

The Wizards extended to Gilbert Arenas for HUGE money which should have been a big story in DC if people liked/cared as much about Arenas as the media and others say DC folks like/care for him but I don't think that is the case. His signing was not treated as huge news and every Wizards fan I talked to, had the same reaction as I did when I saw that, which was, "that's too bad, they probably shouldn't have". Arenas is one of these guys who loves to get on Sportscenter and talk to the media and score a lot of points. And that is it. He really does not help the team win in any way other than scoring which is well and good except for the fact that he will look for his shot at the expense of every other player on the team. When he went down early in the season last year I predicted that they would thrive without him which of course they did. Why would a team do better without their apparent superstar and best player on board? Because they are actually forced to play like a team instead of being a de facto one-man gunning show. That and Caron Butler is really, really good and Antawn Jamison had a career year. Maybe a few years ago people around these parts would have been a bit more excited about him sticking around here for the long haul - he is for the record the only big time sports star the DC area has had excluding Freddy Adu in my six years here which does count for something - but now I think folks have tired of him and his injuries a bit which is too bad seeing as he next year he gets to start a six year, $111M contract. Yikes.

10) At first I think to myself, "You know what, this Red Sox team is better than last year's team and last year's team won the World Series". And then I actually think on that and realize that despite getting better or similar production from last year to this at every position except catcher and DH - and DH is a problem soon to be fixed we hope - the Sox really aren't better than last year. Why? Easy, Beckett has not been the certifiable Ace he was last year, they have an awful setup crew in the bullpen, and Papelbon has been subtly shaky. Once again there are no great teams out there so these guys certainly can pull things together like they did last year - especially with the emergence of Jon Lester being a huge factor - so I guess anything is possible. That is of course except winning a World Series with an awful bullpen. When was the last time that happened?

11) Do you realize that if Dustin Pedroia wins the batting title this year (right now he is third) he'll be the fourth different Red Sox player to win it this decade and represent a fourth different position. Right now they have had their SS win it 2000 (Nomar), their LF win it 2002 (Manny), and their 3B win it 2003 (Bill Mueller). I'd even say that Pedroia is a nice mix of two of those guys in early Nomar and Bill Mueller. His primary early Nomar trait is the ability to hit and hit hard almost any pitch thrown at him from any pitcher. From Bill Mueller he gets his flare for the dramatic (who hit that walkoff HR off of Mo in the Fight Game of '04 and who drove in Dave Roberts....exactly) and his ability to be a really good baseball player without exactly looking the part. While Pedroia probably won't keep on hitting .450 for the rest of the season, I could definitely seeing him hitting .350 and that should put him in a good spot to make a run for his first batting title. Not a bad encore to a Rookie of the Year season.

12) From the "For What It's Worth" department, the Sox currently have far and away the best run differential in the AL at +91 or 18 more than the White Sox who sit in second at +73, the next closest team to them. It's no substitute for wins and losses but a number like that does portend for greater things to come. The Rays and Yankees by the way are at +48 and +40 respectively.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Fearless Prediction: Manny Will Be Traded

After reading this dispatch from Bob Lobel via the Globe's "Extra Bases" blog I would like to go out on a limb and predict that Manny will be traded prior to the July 31 trade deadline. I've been kind of thinking this could happen for a while, but five things have seemingly come together now that could push this whole situation over the top. Note this is all being drawn from what Bob Lobel said.

1) Manny's infamous backwards K against Mo Rivera. This was apparently an "F--- You" directed at the front office for a six figure fine that was deservedly levied on him for his outburst at the traveling secretary.

2) Not only was this backwards K an affront to the front office, it was an affront to the team. Lobel put this on par with the infamous "Nomar sits on the bench and sulks while Jeter nearly breaks his face going into the stands for a foul ball" episode from July 2004 which seemed to mark the unofficial end of the Nomar Era in Boston and brought the need to shake things up and rid the clubhouse of it's most notorious malcontent to the forefront. While fans got rightly steamed for Manny's apathy towards that at bat I have no idea how poorly that must have gone over with his teammates and manager. I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors of clubhouses but with that one at bat, Manny put himself over everything and everybody else in the organization and I just don't know how everybody else moves on from that and can respect Manny after that stunt.

3) Manny calling out John Henry in the paper, and Henry getting personally offended by what he deemed false accusations from him. Never a good idea to publicly call out and bad mouth the guy that pays you $20 million a year you know?

4) Manny is still a very productive hitter as evidenced by his 137 OPS+. However, he is not the hitter he was in 2005, the last time it seemed they were serious about trading him when he had a 153 OPS+. Furthermore, with the likelihood of them picking up his option for next year seemingly shrinking by the day, they do not need to worry about filling his hole in the lineup for the next few years after this one because it is a problem they are likely going to need to tackle in the offseason regardless. Therefore, it is not a now and the future problem, it is just a now problem they will face with moving him and I think they can figure something else out for the last 50-60 games of the year (plus hopefully the playoffs).

5) Every other time that Manny trade rumors have surfaced, a media circus has ensued and made the deal that much more difficult to work out with the extra spotlight being shown upon the inner-workings. Now there are no Manny trade rumors which I have seen, which should allow for Theo and the Crew to explore opportunities to do this - if they so desire - at their own speed and not be forced to deal with throngs of media outlets haranguing them every five minutes for status updates. The only other comparable situation in recent Red Sox history is the Nomar Trade. Nobody saw that coming. Could this be a similar situation?

So, that is why I think Manny will get traded. As for destinations and return, what do I think the Sox will get? If I had to speculate, I'd say that they work out some sort of three way deal with the Diamondbacks and Pirates where Manny goes to the D'Backs - a team dying for a right-handed hitting corner OF and in desperate need of a patient, run producer for their lineup - for prospects including hot shot young pitcher Max Scherzer. The Red Sox then flip a D'Back prospect plus Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, and a mid-level prospect to Pittsburgh for their right fielder, Xavier Nady who is having a career season which may or may not be a fluke and their left-handed setup man Damaso Marte.

This trade works for everybody. The Pirates get two young, MLB ready players plus two other prospects in exchange for a couple of veteran players, the Diamondbacks get the right-handed power bat they need and who they can lockup for another two years and possibly beyond in the inferior NL, and the Red Sox get yet another high-ceilinged pitching talent plus a suitable corner OF replacement and late inning reliever. To me, this deal works all around and it makes every team better in one way or another. It may seemed far-fetched now, but if a trade with Manny goes down, I'd bet it looks something like the above.
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Why the Red Sox Should Not Trade for Relief Pitching

I have Brian Fuentes on one of my fantasy teams. Yesterday, I saw a flag next to his name indicating that there was current news on him. The news stated that the Red Sox would not get into a bidding war for his services as they did not see relief pitching as an extreme need. Forget for a moment, that improving the relief corps is a need for the Red Sox and instead focus on the good news; the Red Sox are not going to go after a mediocre NL closer in hopes that he may be decent in Boston. This is actually great news, not good news.

As I alluded to a few weeks ago, the Sox have had awful luck when it has come to mid-season bullpen acquisitions. It's not just Eric Gagne either. Off the top of my head I listed below each relief pitcher they acquired via an in season trade since 2001 and their stats upon joining the Sox. I think we can safely say that the Eric Gagne trainwreck was not an isolated disaster. Instead, it was just one in a long line of trades for relievers which more often than not lead to poor or awful results.

Thanks as always to for the below.


Ugie Urbina - 20 IP/16 hits/5 ER/32 K/ 3 BB/2.25 ERA/0.95 WHIP/.219 BAA


Alan Embree - 33.1 IP/24 hits/11 ER/43 K/11 BB/2.97 ERA/1.05 WHIP/.216 BAA

Bobby Howry - 18 IP/22 hits/10 ER/14 K/4 BB/5.00 ERA/1.44 WHIP/.306 BAA


BK Kim - 79.1 IP/70 hits/28 ER/69 K/18 BB/3.18 ERA/1.11 WHIP/.230 BAA

Scott Williamson - 20.1 IP/20 hits/14 ER/21 K/9 BB/6.20 ERA/1.43 WHIP/.253 BAA

Scott Sauerbeck - 16.2 IP/17 hits/12 ER/18 K/18 BB/6.48 ERA/2.10 WHIP/.266 BAA

Jeff Suppan* - 63 IP/70 hits/39 ER/32 K/20 BB/5.57 ERA/1.43 WHIP/.281 BAA

*sure Suppan wasn't a reliever but I just wanted to revisit his suckiness for old time's sake




Chad Bradford - 23.1 IP/29 hits/10 ER/10 K/4 BB/3.86 ERA/1.41 WHIP/.312 BAA




Eric Gagne - 18.2 IP/26 hits/14 ER/22 K/9 BB/1.88 WHIP/6.75 ERA/.325 BAA

So there you go. By my count, you could classify 3 of the above 9 as successes (Urbina, Embree, and Kim), 2 as minor failures (Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson) and the remaining 4 (Howry, Sauerbeck, Suppan, and Gagne) as out and out disasters. With that in mind, and realizing the cost of relief pitching these days in trades I see absolutely no reason why the Red Sox should risk delving into this market. The odds of them finding a valuable reliever just aren't that great regardless of what their stats on their seasons to date say. Remember, Scott Sauerbeck, Jeff Suppan, and Eric Gagne were all feted as major acquisitions when they were brought on. And last year with the Rangers, Gagne had a 2.16 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and a .195 BAA in 33.1 IP before coming to Boston. Those are indisputably great numbers. Just goes to show that you never really know what you are getting when you trade for relievers mid-season and with the returns as dicey as they often are, the safest and most practical route is normally to try an fix from within. Right now, it looks like that is the path the Red Sox are going down, and that to me is great news.
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

On James Posey's Departure...

So, as I figured it is bye-bye James Posey. It is too bad but I think the Celtics were smart in not matching the 4 year/$25M contract which he got from the Hornets. Guaranteeing that kind of cash and years to a 31 year old role player is a risky proposition so I think ultimately the C's made the smart decision. It's tough not to get wrapped up in emotion over watching him go, but let's use the same logic we applied when the Red Sox let Johnny Damon and Pedro walk because they got more money and years elsewhere. It's not paying Posey for the first two years that you worry about, it's paying him for the last two years.

With all that being said, if you want to look at James Posey as being a nouveau version of Robert Horry - a fair comparison I think when you consider that both players have made their names as key contributors to championship teams and their games revolve around defense and three point shooting off the bench - take a look at the seasons Horry put forth between the ages of 32-35, the same age range which will cover the next four years of James Posey.

Per Game Stats (minutes/points/rebounds/FG%/3pt FG%)

2001-2002 (LAL) - 26.4/5.7/5.9/.398/.374

2002-2003 (LAL) - 29/6.0/6.4/.387/.346
2003-2004 (SAS) - 15.9/4.8/3.4/.405/.380
2004-2005 (SAS) - 18.6/6.0/3.6/.419/.370

...and now, James Posey's 2007-2008 stats for reference plus what Robert Horry did in his age 31 season

Posey - 24.6/7.4/4.4/.418/.380

Horry (LAL) - 20.1/5.2/3.7/.387/.346

*bolded years are championship years

In looking at the above, two things jump out. First off, James Posey had a better age 31 season than Robert Horry, and I'd even go as far to say that he had a much better age 31 season than Robert Horry. Secondly, Robert Horry remained relatively productive through his age 35 season. Yes, there was an expected minutes drop off in the last two years - the old dude can't run like he used to - but for the most part the production was consistent. If you estimate James Posey's career to follow about the same path then I think you can make a case for him still being a relatively valuable role player in the last two years of the contract. Maybe in those last two years he is the seventh or eight man on the team and not the sixth, but like Horry he is still going to be a guy you will be happy to see on the floor for your team in crunch time. So, if it is just production we are talking about, independent of money then I think a James Posey re-signing would have made sense.

But the numbers don't tell the whole story because in basketball, unlike baseball there is a salary cap. Sure teams flaunt it all the time and pay the luxury tax - which the Celtics did last year - but that is something that teams understandably want to avoid or at the very least want to avoid going way over. Whether or not Posey's contract would have pushed them to the limits or over the tax this year or any of the next four years I do not know. What I do know is that the contract that Posey has received from the Hornets has in effect almost doubled his salary from last year from about $3.2M to $6.25M a year this year and over the next four years. That's a substantial increase not only for Posey but for the hit it would be on the Celtics when you consider the following:

Rough amount owed PER YEAR to Ray Allen/Paul Pierce/KG over the next three years - $57M

2008-2009 NBA Salary Cap - $58.68M

2008-2009 Luxury Tax Threshold - $71.15M

Last year, the Celtics proved that they are okay with going over the luxury tax to field a championship level team as they went over by about $8M (payroll was $76M and luxury tax threshold was $67.8M). Assuming that they are comfortable going about $8-$10M a year over the threshold for the next few years, that puts their estimated payroll next year at about $80M. Taking into account the $57M owed to RA/PP/KG next year, that leaves about $23M to fill out the rest of their roster. With Perk scheduled to make about another $4.25M that brings the number down to $19M for 8 more active players, plus another two or three they will want to carry in case of injuries. If another $6M goes to James Posey, then all of a sudden that number is dropping to around $13M for about 7 to 10 guys. Obviously, that is a daunting task.

And that is just next year.

Considering that over the life of James Posey's contract they will definitely want to work out an extension for Rajon Rondo and either do the same for Leon Powe and Big Baby or explore other options to fill their roles then it becomes even more clear that $6.25M a year for a role player is just too much to spend. A luxury.

Still, it's sad to see James Posey leave. More than likely the C's do not win it all last year without him. So what now? Well, I think we nominate James Posey to be the second official member of the Orlando Cabrera Hall of Fame and call it a day. In a way, it's kind of nice that our lasting memories of James Posey will be his play in the NBA Finals and nothing else. It's the ultimate George Costanza leaving on a high note moment. It's worked pretty well for our memory of the OC right? I mean, he was a guy that hit .294/6/31 in 58 regular season games with a 97 OPS+ and hit .271/0/11 in the playoffs. That's not what we remember though. We remember him as royalty on account of his infectious attitude, outstanding defense, and the fact that he lifted the Nomar Malaise from the team. The hitting was nice enough but wasn't it just all the other "stuff" with the OC that we loved? And isn't it nice to have a guy like him who we can look back on and think of nothing but good times? Sure, the shortstop position has been more or less a disaster since he left town - like the 6th man position on the C's could very well become - but the Sox have won another World Series since and the 2005 and 2006 teams were each a lot more than an Orlando Cabrera away from championship level anyway. Considering that, it's not like not having him around "cost" them in those years. Sure it would have been nice to still have the OC around these parts and it would be nice to be looking forward to James Posey for the foreseeable future as well. Unfortunately, neither of those things were or are reality and we just have to move on and take solace in the outstanding memories these two players have provided. Even if they were just around for a short while, both have left us with the greatest of lasting impressions.

PS (part 1)...

If James Posey was the 2008 Celtics Orlando Cabrera then PJ Brown was their Dave Roberts. Both Brown and Roberts were more bit players than Posey and Cabrera but both had signature moments in the largest of situations that extended their team's championship runs. For Roberts of course it was The Steal and for PJ Brown it was the fourth quarter of Game 7 against Cleveland. Just wanted to put that out there.

PS (part 2)...

When I saw on the Globe's site that they had Ryan Gomes on the list of possible James Posey replacements, the blow of him leaving got softened drastically. I'd love see Gomes come back here in one way or another and I think he would be great in that 6th man role. He may not have the range of Posey but he can shoot and rebound and I think the transition from Posey to Gomes would be pretty smooth. Plus he should be a bit cheaper, fans are predisposed to him, and I have never met a Celtic fan who did not like him. Seems like a great fit to me.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Star Game

So as you all probably know the all star game was last night, and went into the early morning. I watched it until the 15th inning and was thrilled when it was over and I could go to bed, I am still absolutely wiped today though and I hope to make it early night since there are absolutely no sports on tonight. So here are some thoughts from all star weekend.(or is it week since it took up the begining half of this weekend)

- Josh Hamilton is now my favorite non Red Sox player in baseball. I followed his career through the ESPN special inside the lines, and the heart wrenching articles in Sports Illustrated. I even saw him on an episode of the Real Estate Pros where becuase he was banned from baseball the owner of Trademark properties made him a foreman on his Shoeless Joe Jackson project. It is good to see him comeback and it is amazing that for someone who missed so much time and spent so little time in the minors can be so effective now.

-15 innings, you knew after the debacle in Milwaukee back in 2002 that this game was not going to end in a tie. After the game Tito even said that he would have put JD Drew in as a pitcher if the game had gone any longer.

- Dan Uggla had an awful night, between the errors and going 0-4 I can't imagine that this is a night that he will want to remember.

- JD Drew won the games MVP, I was a little surprised by it but you have to figure that he had the best gameout of anyone, 2 for 4 with 1 homerun and two RBIs. It is still good to see a Sox player win especially JD after the awful season he had last year it is good ot see him earn his money.

- It looks to me that Steinbrenner has had a stroke. It was good to see him even though I have never been able to stand him or his kids.

- What is going on with Paps? he just doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut, between him mouthing off about Rivera and the whole revenge on the Rays thing. Which as a side note we know he will never be able to carry out becuase he only pitches one in inning in a close game so he better not be throwing at a guy about a stupid fight when a game is on the line. he needs to keep his mouth shut otherwise he could be the next Curt Schilling.

- I loved the pregame announcements, having all the hal of famers on the field and announcing them as they announced the starters at there former positions. There were some Hall of Famers missing though that I wish could have been there. In particular Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Stan Musial, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrzemski. NYC may have tried but they will never top the 1999 all star game when most of those players were there, plus the ones last night, plus Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Warren Spahn, Mark McGwire, and Pedro Martinez. Of course I will not forget the splendid splinter himself, and my favorite baseball player of all time Ted Williams.

That is all for now I am begining to work on me QB preview for the new fantasy football season.
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Some Red Sox Awards For Ya'

The All Star Break is here, the Red Sox are in first place, and Papi is due back in less than two weeks. Things are looking pretty good right now. Of course there are some huge qualifiers with the above three statements like the fact that this first half has seemed drastically longer than most thanks to the Japan games, the Sox first place lead is only a tenuous .5 games, and how good Papi will really be upon his return is anybody's guess. Regardless, the break is here and things are about where we would want them to be even if they are not exactly perfect.

With that in mind let's dole out some first half awards for the Sox season and maybe I'll even get wild and dive into MLB later in the week. Now let's stop the heavy-petting and put that KY to use...

The More Things Change.....Award (bad)

Congrats to Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen! For the FOURTH straight year you have both proven yourselves to be maddeningly inconsistent and seemingly incapable of showing marked improvement over a prolonged stretch. Whenever either of you enter a close game I immediately assume the worst, and most of the time my fears are proven justified. It's year four in the big leagues guys, time to shit or get off the pot OK? I don't think I'm alone in my thinking here. Actually, I know I am not.

The More Things Change.....Award (good)

Ho-hum, Tim Wakefield is just cruising along submitting a bunch of good starts, a few great ones, and of course some stinkers here and there, but no matter. Tim Wakefield is what he is and this year - like most any other year - he is quietly proving to be an invaluable part of the rotation and has arguably been the team's best and most consistent starter. Consider that of the starters, he is second to Jon Lester in both innings pitched and ERA (122.1 and 3.60), second to Dice-K in BAA (.217), and second to Josh Beckett in WHIP and strikeouts (1.18 and 82). That's pretty incredible right? He may not be the best at anything, but he is second best at everything important and that is really, really impressive. Consistency counts big time and I think you could argue for Wakefield to be the recipient of the Red Sox first half Cy Young Award.

The Wasn't He Washed Up in 2005 Award

Mike Timlin. Who else could it be? Nothing like a late inning reliever with a 6.31 ERA and .308 BAA.

The So That Explains It (I Hope) Award

BABIP, or Batting Averarge of Balls in Play. Seem like Jonathan Papelbon's invincibility has worn off despite K/BB and K/9 rates right in line with his career? Well, you are not alone. So why has this happened? BABIP. Consider that in 2006 the BABIP on Papelbon was .226 and in 2007 it was .216. This year, it's .302. That's a huge difference obviously, and I'd say yet another reason to think that he will improve in the second half. While his control has improved this year, his K's have gone down a touch which has resulted in more balls put in play obviously, but in all honesty the difference is probably only about an extra two balls put in play per 9 appearances, so that is not too substantial. All in all, I think we will see the Good Ole' Papelbon in the second half, assuming his BABIP goes down closer to the average of his first two years. Is that a fair assumption? I say yes. Cheap hits can't dog him all year, can they?

Oh, and the stats I cited above are as follows:

Control this year vs. last:

roughly 1.5 BB/9 IP and a 7.3:1 K:BB vs. 2.3 BB/9 IP and a 5.6:1 K:BB

K's this year vs. last:

11.3 K/9 vs 13 K/9

The Kind of Amazing Isn't It Award

Did you realize that the foursome of Manny, Youk, JD Drew, and Mike Lowell are ALL on pace for 25+ HR and 100+ RBI? Assuming they all stay at their same pace and Manny and Youk log 155 games and Lowell and Drew log 150, their final numbers would like this:

Manny - .293/31/103
Youk - .314/26/111
JD Drew - .302/31/102
Mike Lowell - .297/25/108

and for good measure...

Dustin Pedroia (158 games) - .314/15/78

The last time the Sox had 4, 100+ RBI guys on their team? I don't know. I went back to 1978 and could not find another time they did that. In fact, since then they have only had 3+ guys twice in 1984 (Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, and Tony Armas) and in 2003 (Manny, Papi, Nomar). Long story short, it's a pretty strong season for lineup balance, even with Papi missing a good chunk of it to date and some more to follow.

The David Ortiz Award AKA The Guy You Most Want Up With the Game on the Line

We've chronicled it before here but Mike Lowell's "Close and Late" line is just insane (in 47 ABs):

14 1B
4 BB
4 2B
3 HR
13 RBI
.440 Avg.
.490 OBP
.723 Slg.
1.213 OPS

And for reference, some other decent Close and Late OPS'

Manny - .970
Youk - .959
Pedroia - .937
Sean Casey - 1.257 (just 16 ABs)
David Ortiz - .749

The Nomar Award AKA Star Player You LEAST Want Up With the Game on the Line

You're having a great year JD Drew, but these numbers (in 39 ABs) are awful:

1 1B
9 BB
2 2B
1 HR
.103 Avg.
.265 OBP
.231 Slg.
.496 OPS

And just for reference, some other Close and Late OPS'

Julio Lugo - .619
Ellsbury - .532
Jason Varitek - .393!!!!! (how is that possible...6/44 with 1 HR)

The Supposedly Minor Offseason Signing That Everybody Thought Would be Huge and Has Ended Up Being Exactly That and Then Some

It's Sean Casey folks AKA The Mayor. All Casey does is get hits and in 126 ABs he's put up a .373/.428/.476 line. Not too bad for your backup first baseman. No offense to Eric Hinske, Dave McCarty, or the great Rico Brogna, but nobody is pining for you guys these days. It should be noted however that Eric Hinske currently has 14 HR and 45 RBI. Don't know where that came from.

The Take Your Time Award

This goes to Julio Lugo and his quad injury. Take your time healing buddy! We'll see what we got with Jed Lowrie. No rush!

I hate to be the Lugo apologist around these parts because I really do think he is worthless but again it should be noted that his .355 OBP is actually pretty good - and better than Jacoby's .340 OBP. What kills Lugo though is his minimal pop AKA his .330 slugging percentage. Still - and not to pick on Jacoby - but Ellsbury is only slugging .375 and his OPS is just 30 points higher than Lugo's at .715 to Lugo's .685. Granted this does not take into account Lugo's poor defense - although it has improved lately - and the scintillating plays made by Ellsbury both on the bases and in the field but I say all this just so people know that Lugo really has not been as awful as advertised. And with all that being said, I am eagerly anticipating the Lowrie/Cora platoon which I pined for just a few weeks ago.

(circa 2003) The "Hey Ortiz, Carlos Quintana Called, He Wants His Stats Back" Award AKA The Eat My Words Award

Heading into the season I dogged Jon Lester every chance I got. He's a nibbler! He can't get through 5 innings in under 100 pitches! He allows too many baserunners! He can't beat good teams!

While he still has a ways to go - his K:BB ratio is still under 2:1 at 82:44 and he allows almost a hit per inning with 122 hits allowed in 125 innings - he does lead the team in both innings pitched and ERA which is great. Furthermore, to go with his no-hitter he has two signature road performances against two great offenses in the Phillies and the Yankees. In those two performances he went 16 innings, did not allow a run, allowed just 11 hits, struck out 13, and walked only three. Very nice. Yes, he does get himself into trouble at times on account of the amount of baserunners he can allow, but all and all it is very tough to criticize the body of work that Jon Lester has put forward in the first half of the season.

And now for the big finish....

MVP - Mike Lowell...those close and late numbers are just too hard to ignore.

CY Young - Tim Wakefield...he does not really have a chink in his statistical armor this year.

Best Surprise (hitter) - Mike Lowell and JD Drew...I really thought Lowell was a contract year special, and who saw JD Drew being the Sox most productive hitter coming?

Best Surprise (pitcher) - Tim Wakefield...I should probably put Lester in here, but Wakefield has been their most consistent starter to date and while I should have learned to expect that from Wake after all his years in Boston, I guess I still don't really appreciate how valuable - and good! - he is.

Biggest Dissappointment (high standards) - Josh Beckett...seriously, way too up and down for me this year. He's had flashes, but has not been able to consistently channel 2007 like we all hoped he would.

Biggest Dissappointment (low standards) - picking on Jason Varitek is too easy and vindictive these days so let's just say that year four of the Delcarmen/Hansen Era being equally as shitty as years one through three has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Play of the Year - Gotta be Manny's high-five DP in Baltimore. Really, there isn't even a close second.

Game of the Year - Honestly, this one is too close to call. Lester's no-hitter is the easy call here but there have been so many great comebacks as well that I really cannot pinpoint one over the other.

...and that's it.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Looking at the Pats: A 13-3 Season on Tap?

I was watching ESPN on Thursday and they were previewing the AFC East. I was at a bar and the sound was off so I did not hear exactly what they were saying, but at the bottom of the screen, the question was posed, "Has the rest of the NFL caught up to the Patriots?". I thought about this, and instantly the answer that came to my mind was, "yes, they probably have". But guess what? Who cares. The Patriots probably aren't going to win every single regular season game they play this year - and after last year I hope they don't - but they play in a weak division and should still be able to win at least 12 games. 12-4 or 13-3 may not be as exciting as 16-0 but if the end result is the same - HFA for the playoffs - then who really cares. Yes, the league probably has "caught up" to the Pats, but even still they find themselves where they have found themselves at the outset of every season since 2004 - on the short list of teams that can call themselves legitimate Super Bowl favorites. The other teams in their tier right now I would have to say are just Indianapolis and San Diego with Pittsburgh, Dallas, and maybe Jacksonville a step behind them.

Even though the Patriots have been on this aforementioned shortlist the past few seasons, they have not won the Super Bowl since the 2004 season. In 2005 they lost on the road to Denver on account of uncharacteristically sloppy games from both Kevin Faulk - a huge goat in that game - and Tom Brady and a couple of iffy calls that did not go their way - talking the first half pass interference call and Ben Watson's strip of Champ Bailey. In 2006 and 2007 they lost - in the most basic terms - because their defense could not make a stop when they absolutely needed to. Sure there were other reasons, but both times the defense was on the field with a chance to clinch the game and both times they came up empty. Yes, the offensive line got bitch-slapped pretty hard by the Giants pass rush in the Super Bowl but if Asante Samuel hauls in that INT or Richard Seymour finishes the sack on Eli Manning then we are talking 19-0. I can't talk about that anymore though because I just got mad typing. Long story short, the only way the Pats can win it all this year is if their defense markedly improves.

Will they improve? I have no idea. I have huge hopes for Jerod Mayo this year and I think that Adalius Thomas is poised for a monster season after a one year indoctrination period to the Belichek Defense. I also anticipate more great things from Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork plus a Richard Seymour resurgence. As for the rest of the D I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I just really hope to not be sitting on the edge of my seat in late January or early February of next year, watching the Patriots defense let their opponent march down the field for the winning score.

With all that being said, let's switch gears entirely and check out their schedule. Here is what sticks out to me:

1) A relatively easy first three weeks to start their season - and head into their bye - where they play at home against Miami and KC and travel just to New Jersey to play the Jets. Of course things can change quickly, but right now that is about as easy as it can get for a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance. You have to think 3-0 here.

2) After the bye they look at back-to-back California games, at SF and then a Sunday nighter at SD. This will not be the only time they need to fly cross country for consecutive games. Right now, I'd pencil in that game at SD as their first loss of the season, but stranger things have happened and the NFL schedule never plays out the way we think right? Rationally, we say 1-1 for these games.

3) As almost an apology from the league, the Pats next seven games are relatively easy on both the opponents and the travel. Their game after the SD Sunday nighter is a home, MNF game against the Broncos so they get an extended week and the only travel in this stretch of schedule is just to Indy and to Miami, both relatively easy jaunts. Their home games during that stretch are the aforementioned MNF game against Denver, then St. Louis. After they travel to Indy they have three consecutive division games against Buffalo and the Jets and then it is down to Miami. They return from Miami and have what is sure to be a big feature game against the Steelers. Again, smart money is on the Pats going 6-1 or at the least 5-2 during this five game stretch with the losses coming at Indy and somewhere else in there possibly, but of course as I said before, you never know. Final prediciton for this stretch for me is 6-1.

4) And now the the hellacious part of the schedule. Three of the Pats final four games are on the road including another back-to-back west coast jaunt, this time to Seattle then Oakland, followed by a home game reprieve against Arizona, and then the final game of the year in sunny Buffalo, NY on December 28. Logically here, you look and think 3-1 with the 1 being the Seattle game. However, I could also see them beating Seattle, then losing to Oakland in a letdown the following week. There is no chance Arizona wins in Foxboro in late December, but concluding the season in Buffalo is never a nice or easy task and that could be another potential "L" depending on the situation. If the Pats have nothing to play for then, I don't see them winning there, but if they need a win to clinch HFA then I think they pull it out. Regardless, this home stretch is definitely their toughest of the season and wrapping up the season 2-2 definitely seems well within the realm of possibilities. Still, I'm going on the side of optimism and saying 3-1 with the 1 the game at Oakland.

So, where does that put us...

Taking into account the above, right now I'd say the Pats are looking like worst case scenario an 11-5 team and best case scenario 13-3 or possibly even 14-2 if they can manage to win one of their ultra-tough roadies at either SD, Indy, or Seattle. I think they will win one of those when all is said and done but I also think they'll lose a game I have marked as a "W" right now. With everything said and done, my final, bold prediction for the Pats this year is a 13-3 record with all three losses coming on the road at San Diego, Indy, and Oakland.

Mark it down.

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Red Sox Minor League Report

Now that Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Manny Delcarman are in the majors it is time to look down into the minors to see who will be coming up in the next couple of years. Right now our team is the 3rd oldest team in the league with only Philadelphia and Houston being older. With players like Mike TImlin, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, and Manny Ramirez dragging our average age to 30.5. So with all that said here are some of our prospects that we can look forward to in the coming years.

Josh Reddick: He may not fit the mold as an OPS guy for the Red Sox but he is absolutely tearing it up in Single A right now. He has a .349 batting average with 9 doubles, 8 triples, 15 home runs, in only 68 games. He spent some time in AA Portland last year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him there again before to long. Most likely we will see him in the Majors sometime in 2010 maybe playing right field.

Michael Bowden: A first round pick from that celebrated 2005 Draft Bowden is playing with AA Portland and was recently named to the Eastern Conference All Star team with an 8-4 record, a 2.36 ERA and 93 Strikeouts. He has a great reputation and I could see him playing with the team in September or early next season depending on how the guys in front of him work out.

Lars Anderson: I will be honest with you this guy truly excites me. It has been a long time since the Sox had a true power hitter in there farm system. Lars is currently in Single A where he is kitting .324 with 13 Home Runs. He should probably be ready in a few years when he can step in for Papi at DH, or for Youk at first when Lowell hangs them up.

That is all I have for now, also look out for Michael Almanzar, he is only 17 and is playing the gulf coast league but everything I read about him reminds me of what they used to say about Hanley. Read more!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank you MN!!!

I just thought I would send out a quick shoutout to the ENTIRE state of Minnesota as I would like to thank them for all that they have done for the people of Boston. Most recently of course was the three game sweep that helped propel the Sox within two games of the vaunted Rays.Other than that think about it what other state has contributed more to our success in sports over the last decade. Some examples

David Ortiz: The Twins released Big Papi after several injury prone seasons, the Sox scooped him up and the rest is history of course. The Sox have of course won two world series since then and Big Papi is maybe the greatest clutch hitter in baseball history.

Randy Moss: Granted he did not come directly to Boston from Minnesota but before his amazing year last year he had always been best known for being a Viking, and hitting a meter maid with his car. Still we have to thank Minnesota for trading him to the black hole that is Oakland and him begging to get out of there to come to us.

Kevin Garnett: The heart and soul of our 2008 NBA Champions, it only took him one season away from the dreary state to win a championship. I still am not sure exactly what McHale was smoking when he agreed to this, Danny Ainge must have pictures of him with a goat or something.

Doug Mientkiewicz: Granted he is not a superstar like the previous three but his defense was crucial to the Red Sox world series win in 2004. It would have gone a lot better if he hadn't been a prick about the ball but still quite the steal.

Laurence Maroney: Another import from Minnesota where he played his college ball. Maroney is never going to be the next LT but he will suffice as the starter for the patriots high flying offense.

Once again I would like to thank the state of Minnesota for being our bitches, we tried it out for awhile with Florida but things just didn't work out, instead the state known only for having the biggest mall in America which is really the only thing to do there other than to watch the Minnesota Sports teams to try and find Boston's next big star.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Manny Comes Through Again

Apparently we should let manny push old guys around more often, for the second game in a row Manny cam through in the clutch only this time with a game tying two run home run in the bottome of the 8th. We are only 3 games behind the rays now thanks to the Yanks. Go Sox!!
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jason Varitek and the All Star Game

Guess what? We get it. Jason Varitek does not deserve to be an All Star this year. Quit crying about it because it won't change.

Guess what else though? I've got a fearless prediction and that is that Jason Varitek has the 2008 All Star Game MVP Award coming his way. Crazy? Yeah. But remember Terry Steinbach? Or more accurately, remember Terry Steinbach who won the 1988 All Star game MVP? The Steinbach situation is actually incredibly similar to what is going on with Varitek right now.

Neither deserved to be on the team (Steinbach's 79 first half OPS+ was only slightly better than Varitek's 71 OPS+ to date this year) but both made it based on varying degrees of legitimate shadiness. For Varitek it was the good old "player vote" and for Terry Steinbach it was some serious ballot stuffing on the part of Oakland fans. More impressively, this was back when you actually had to stuff the ballot boxes. And, because he was voted in Steinbach got the starting nod! Doesn't that make his situation almost more egregious than what is going on with 'Tek?

I really give Oakland fans props for this because this was good old fashioned ballot stuffing. No online voting back then. Just straight up punching the holes in the All Star cards they used to give you at the ballpark and overflowing the boxes with cards with Terry Steinbach's name punched in. I don't know about you, but I like the old way drastically more than the new, online based voting system. When I was younger, filling out those punch cards was always one of the highlights of going to pre All Star break games and I think something has been lost in the translation from manual to online voting. I don't know what it is, but it is not the same and I have not voted for an All Star in years.

Good old days rants aside, Terry Steinbach as mentioned above, won the All Star Game MVP on account of his two run homer in the game that stood up and propelled the AL to victory. I still remember that home run honestly and it would probably be my most vivid All Star Game memory if not for Boggs and Bo Jackson leading off the 1989 game with back-to-back homers and Pedro's performance in the 1999 game at Fenway. Back to Steinbach though, and I guess the point here is that even though Varitek does not deserve to be at the game, it does not mean that he won't produce. Sure he has been woeful at the plate lately, but I am going to go out on a limb and predict him commemorating the twenty years since the Steinbach home run with a slump-busting, go-ahead home run of his own late in the game. You know 'Tek will be playing too because Tito is the manager, and he won't make Joe Mauer catch the full 9 innings. So there you have my fearless prediction; Jason Varitek will be the MVP of the 2008 All Star Game.

And in case you were wondering what happened to Terry Steinbach the rest of that season, he went on to post a 116 OPS+. Will the same go for Varitek? I sure hope so. Read more!

Manny Can Swing The Bat!!!!

Oh My God look what happens when Manny actually swings at the pitch, he actually drives in the winning run. He is AMAZING!!!!!
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Checking In Like the Rest of the Staff Here

Despite the minimal amount of time I actually spent watching sports over the weekend, there still is a bunch to cover...

1) Julio Lugo. Guess what? I'm not going to bash him. He made a huge defensive play against the Yankees Sunday night, robbing Bobby Abreu of an RBI single or double in the sixth. If the bullpen actually holds onto that 4-2 seventh inning lead then that is the play of the game. They did not of course, but I'm just saying.

2) I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago and things still looked good, but I can definitively say that Jonathan Papelbon does not inspire the confidence in me which he has in the past. When he came into that tenth inning tie on Sunday I just knew the Yankees were going to find a way to win. I guess that's probably half Papelbon though and the other half my feeling that whenever a game goes to extras at Yankee Stadium, which is that the Yankees are going to win about ten times out of ten.

3) Manny's backwards K where the bat never came off his shoulder with the go-ahead runner on third and two outs in the ninth inning - what more is there to say? WTF.

4) More Julio Lugo. Look, I want Jed Lowrie in there as much as the next guy and really see no need to keep sending Lugo out there. With that being said, it should be noted that his OBP of .351 - which is not all that bad honestly - is better than the starting shortstops of every other first place AL team. This includes the White Sox starting shortstop, the love of our lives, Orlando Cabrera. Other prominent AL shortstops whom Lugo out-OBPs are Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, and Bobby Crosby. OBP may not be the be all and end all, but is a pretty important stat. If you consider getting on base and not making outs an important skill to have offensively then you need to give it it's proper due. Yes, Lugo really has no other discernible skill beyond walking and hitting singles as evidenced by his whopping 13 XBH this year (12 doubles and 1 HR) and .328 SLG but you cannot deny that he has done a good job getting on base. In fact, the OBP discrepancy between him and the other guys named above actually highly favors Lugo.

Julio Lugo - .351
Derek Jeter - .343
Orlando Cabrera - .319
Bobby Crosby - .317
Edgar Renteria - .302

And now that I have said my niceties towards him, let's move on and prepare ourselves for the Jed Lowrie Era.

5) The Brewers acquired CC Sabathia. This is a great move for them for all the reasons that they will say on, namely the fact that they now probably have the best 1-2 rotation punch in the NL. The D'Backs Brandon Webb/Dan Haren duo could match them but Webb has seriously cooled down since his torrid start, posting an ERA over 6 and a WHIP of almost 1.7 over the last month. Still, as long as the Brewers have as big of a mess at the back end of their bullpen as they do now with former, disgraced Red Sox Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne hanging back there they really cannot be taken entirely seriously. A bad bullpen will absolutely destroy you in the postseason. If I am the Brewers, I am on the phone with Billy Beane in Oakland right now seeing what the cost of Huston Street is. Street is by no means the best closer in baseball but of the good ones that could be available, he is the best of the bunch and a marked upgrade over what they have now. After all, what is the good of a lead if you cannot protect it?

6) Seriously, what more can you say? A-Rod becoming the Katie Holmes to Madonna's Tom Cruise is just too good to be true right?

7) Fantasy football is less than two months away and in about six weeks, people will start drafting. I've already vented in these spaces before about how I consider football to be the least challenging and strategic fantasy game of the three majors so I won't go off on that again. What I have not railed against yet is how I don't like head-to-head fantasy leagues and how I think all should be roto for the greater good. Here is why:

The best team always wins. I understand that matchup leagues make the gameplay more life like - your team can do great and you can lose or your team can do awful and you can still win - but screw that. I like the idea of knowing that if I draft a good team that they will be in it until the end regardless of how luck turns out. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you see four teams ahead of you in the standings that you have outscored for the year? Again, I understand that the idea is to make things more "life-like" but with fantasy I like the idea of consistency being rewarded, not a few hot/cold weeks. And you know what else, I guarantee you if you were a Tom Brady owner last year you are probably whole-heartedly agreeing with me right now.

8) Ben Coates and his arm-brand have been elected into the Patriots Hall of Fame. This is completely merited and deserved for Ben Coates. Quite simply, he was the team's best receiver in the mid-1990's and you could pretty much say that as went Coates, as went Drew Bledsoe and the rest of the Patriots offense. Imagine if Ben Watson had hands and could block well to compliment his athleticism? Well that would be Ben Coates. The guy was an absolute beast and one my all time favorite Patriots. Furthermore, if you took an informal poll to gauge people's favorite Patriots of the 1990's, I can all but guarantee you that Coates would top the list and be joined by guys like Sam Gash, Willie McGinest, and maybe even Chris Slade. Unfortunately, the Pats really have not had a solid, all around tight end since Coates left, but in his day, Coates was an absolute beast. I'll leave you with the combined stats from his two best seasons (1994 & 1995) when he was a 1st team All Pro: 2,089 receiving yards, 180 receptions, 13 TDs. Nice. Congrats Ben.

9) Some fearless predictions for the upcoming Patriots season:

Jabar Gaffney - 50 catches, 750 yards

Laurence Maroney - 15 TDs, 1500 total yards

Jerod Mayo - 150 tackles

Fernando Bryant - 9 INTs
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You Cannot Hit The Ball If You Don't Swing The Bat

Building off Mike's post, just about everything having to do with the Red Sox grinds my gears right about now. But, here are just some finer observations and things I noticed over the last 8 games or so:

-First and Foremost, I am officially done with Manny Ramirez, and will now start to campaign for the Sox not to pick up his option for next season. Curt Schilling called him "the greatest hitter alive today" this morning. How can you be the greatest hitter, when you do not swing the bat at the ball? Last I checked you could not get a hit otherwise. Now, I know that he can hit, and before all you Manny lovers attack me, I acknowledge that he is a great player. But, he was in a rut for most of last season, finishing with subpar numbers for Manny Ramirez, and this year, even after the most active offseason he has ever had, according to his agent at least, his numbers are not that impressive. Then he punched Youk and beat up an old man. Now, he won't even swing at a cutter from Rivera. Does Rivera throw anything else? Come on. I cannot help but wonder if he did not swing because he was pouting that he had to pinch hit on his night off, boo-hoo. It's time to let him go.

-Why can't someone tell Joe Morgan that it's pronounced "Ellsbury" not Ellsworth? This is the third game in a row he has called him that. Is it that hard to read off of a computer screen?

-Do people realize that in order to trade Lugo, someone has to want the bum? I love all of these supposed "long time" Sox fans calling in with this just mind bottling trades for great players that have Lugo as the Sox centerpiece in the deal. Do they realize that other teams can watch the Sox too, and see his stats online? I would be willing to bet that there are people whose job it is to do just that? If I owned a team I would call that person a scout, or something like that...oh wait...

-Barry Bonds? Are you kidding? More on this later.... Read more!

What Really Grinds My Gears!!

Back in 2006 I convinced Ben to play fantasy Baseball for one year, and what was a precursor to the blog he wrote a couple posts on the league wall titles what really grinds my gears. Now Ben has a baby as you can obviously tell from the pictures all over the website so he does not have the time needed to post as often, since he doesn't and I have to much time on my hand as I slowly transition to a new job and have no work to do in my old one I thought I would bring the "What really grinds my gears" column to Rootbeer and Bacon, especially after the last few days. Don't you like the special logo I made? You to can become a graphic designer with a little help from an old version of Microsoft PowerPoint. So here we go....

- Boston Sports Fans: The sox are 5 games out of first place and WEEI sounds like a funeral. The season is only half over, one of our best players is on the DL, they are a streaky team. As for Bob from New Hampshire who wanted to fire Theo Epstein because he feels he wasn't really that crucial to the two world championships. HE BUILT THE F'ING TEAM. Granted he had help in '04 from what had been given to him but the team that won last year was almost entirely his. He has made some bad trades and made some bad signings but last time I checked he broke an 86 year curse and then 3 years later did it again. Leave him alone he had one of the most successful drafts in MLB history in 2005 when he got Jacoby, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and Michael Bowden. Leave him alone we will play better stop blaming Theo.

- Julio Lugo: You suck go back to where you came from

- Manny Ramirez: LIFT YOUR BAT OFF YOUR SHOULDER. I only played baseball for a 10 years when I was younger and I learned that the best way to hit the ball is to swing at it. Maybe I should be Manny's Hitting coach I could have helped him last night by yelling swing the bat during the 9th inning.

- Joe Morgan: He makes me miss Jerry Remy and we all know how much I hate Remy.

- Boston Sports fans: Yes again, I listened to WEEI during my lunch and I had to listen to some idiot give his five step plan to turning the sox around including trading almost every player in the starting lineup. His number one thing was to trade Lugo, see above for my feelings about Lugo. Every time someone says that they want to trade Lugo I think of a quote from one of my favorite TV shows My Name is Earl. "Who would wanna steal your car....a piece of crap with "asstronaught" painted on the side" - Randy. Lugo of course is the Car.

- Sam Cassell: Everytime I see video of him celebrating I wonder what exactly it is he did to help the Celtics win, can you explain it to me. If he had been on the court even one minute longer in the finals they would have lost and we would have had to see Koby on every sports show for the next six months.

That is all for now, later.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

All Star Selection Sunday

Wow no one has posted on the new baby filled Rootbeer and Bacon in the last couple of days. I was down on the cape visiting my grandparents and fighting the traffic which was the worst I have seen it. The tourists didnt know what to do on the cape when it rained on Saturday so apparently they all thought that driving around was the best thing to do. I will not go down there again until the season is over in September, or if a Cape League game piques my interest.

This post is meant to be about the all star selections and in particular the selections from the Red Sox before I get to that though I have a couple of notes I wanted to post.

- Fuck JULIO LUGO, he is a piece of crap who should be run out of town. For the longest time he got away with his shitty play because the rest of the team hit an dno one seemed to notice the automatic out at the bottom of the order. We need to make a trade, bring in Omar Vizquel who may suck just as bad at the plate would at least not give up so many runs in the field.

- Second thing I like Tennis, there I said it I just watched Nadal take down Federer in a five set thriller. I only watch the grand slam events but the last two days have made me interested again and I can't wait for the US Open to start.

On to the All Stars. As you probably already know the Red Sox got 7 players on to the all star team.

David Ortiz - I question the fans on this one even though I love Big Papi he has been out for a month, and when he was playing his average was crap and was just starting to heat up whne he got injured. I do like that he will respect the fans and will still show up in New York.

Manny Ramirez - over the past month Manny has been more known for his questionable behavior more than his playing a ability. He is a hall of famer but he has disrepected the all star game in the past and I would not be shocked if he some how found a way to sit this one out as well. He certainly is not an actual all star, and would not have made the team if it wasnt for the fans.

Dustin Pedroia - A great vote in by the fans, he is full of hustel is gold glove caliber at second base, and has been on absolute fire the last few months.

Kevin Youkilis - I wonder about this pick, I think he deserved it but I also think that Justin Morneau deserved it as well, still I am happy for the greek god of walks for him finally being recognized.

The Reserves

JD Drew - JD has been on frie since Papi was placed onthe injured reserve and did a great job replacing much of the offense that was lost. It is good to see him earning his money on this one.

Jonathan Papelbon - Paps is a great closer and will be an all star for years to come this is his third trip. He hasnt been quite as dominant as he has been in the past but he is still one of the best.

Jason Varitek - I can only hope htat he was voted on for the work he has done in the past. He has been absolutely awful this year at the plate. I am begining to question if the captain should be resigned nexgt year.


Mike Lowell, Jon Lester, and even Dice K deserved to make the team. Lowell still could once it is official that Papi is not playing and Miklton Bradley is starting. I think Lester is screwed a little by his record even though he has been great, Dice K has the record and the ERA and I was a little surprised he didnt make his was to NYC for the game. Imagine the reaction of the Japanese media if he was pitching wiht Ichiro in the field against fukudome. It would be as exciting as that time they thought that Godzilla was dead but then he wasn't and ate even more people.

I am done for now I will warn you I am hoping to write a preview to the fantasy football season that is quickly approaching. I have finished in the top three of all my leagues over the last five years so I might actually know what I am talking about or not.
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

10 Pre-Fourth of July Thoughts

Well I'm just as frustrated about that abomination in Tampa as the next guy. Let's be clear too, the best team definitely DID win each of those games. Just as frustrating to me are the last two games of the Houston series, which they lost but could have won each as Saturday saw a bullpen implosion in the late innings and Sunday saw them strand 13 runners en route to only scoring 2 and losing 3-2.

Enough on that. Here are 10 thoughts for you heading into this holiday weekend.

1) One of my biggest concerns for the team heading into the year was having two pitchers on the staff in Dice-K and Jon Lester that seemingly needed acts of god to get through five innings in under 100 pitches. Lester has moved towards alleviating that knock on him, but of his last ten starts, only 6 would be qualified as "quality" (6+ IP, >3 ER) so obviously there still is room for improvement. Dice-K conversely has only pitched 6+ innings three times in his last ten starts. To call that atrocious would be kind. The guy is supposed to be the team's number two starter. Bottom line that is unacceptable and the Red Sox will NOT be able to hang in the race if Dice-K continues on with his five and dive routine.

2) I don't want to spout hyperbole and I don't want to be over-dramatic but I think Jon Lester's start tonight against the Yankees is the biggest of his career to date. Not only do they absolutely need a win tonight, but seven or eight strong out of Lester would be an enormous boost to the team. Furthermore, with a solid showing against an equally patient and potent lineup like the Yankees who will be fresh off hanging an 18 spot on Texas, Lester can prove once and for all that he can beat all comers and not just middling, impatient offenses. He took a great step in this direction in his start against Philly a couple of weeks ago (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB) but unfortunately now, freshest in our mind is his 5 inning, 6 run and 9 hit affair last Saturday at Houston. Still, the biggest step possible for him in his career right now would be subduing a lineup of the Yankees ilk as he has historically had trouble with deep, patient ones. In his 5 career starts against Cleveland, Detroit, and the Yankees he has a 7.40 ERA in 24.1 IP while allowing 47 baserunners (31 hits, 16 BB) in that time. As I said, a win and quality start tonight goes a long way towards Jon Lester dispelling the notion that he can't beat the big boys. And it could not come at a better time either.

3) I'm really glad that Delcarmen and Hansen went right back to sucking after I talked them up the other day. I really don't know how much more slack these two can be given. It seems like we have been one step forward four steps back with them for the past two years. At some point they just need to move on. Can Justin Masterson and maybe Portland Sea Dog hot shot Michael Bowdoin make it in the late innings? Who knows but it has to be worth a shot. As for what becomes of Manny and Craig? Well I still think they have value to other teams and I can almost promise you that packaging those two guys to an NL team can 100% net them either a good veteran reliever or an outfield bat. Problem is, I hate trading for relievers because doesn't it seem like those moves NEVER pan out? Relievers are just so damn streaky you hate to put too much stock in a mid-season acquisition even if they are having a good year. The Eric Gagne disaster is a recent and disturbing memory, but let's not forget the Scott Sauerback and Scott Williamson disasters of 2003. In fairness to Scott Williamson, despite his 6.20 ERA during the regular season with the Sox he did pitch lights out in the postseason that year while Sauerback did not even make the roster. Still, as a point I really don't like the idea of mid-season bullpen acquisitions and because of that I think the Sox will just have to get creative with what they have.

4) I am feeling a monster weekend series for Manny in New York. He always plays great at the Stadium and I think he is right about at the point where he is going to explode. 3 HR and 10 RBI over the 4 game set would not shock me.

5) Dustin Pedroia bottomed out at .262 on June 15. Less than three weeks later he is now standing at .311. That is crazy. He has raised his batting average almost 50 points in just 16 games.

6) The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of making a run for CC Sabathia if he can be had for a reasonable price. While another bat or bullpen help may be a more pressing, big picture need, I must admit that the thought of bringing aboard a second pitcher that along with Beckett you can pencil in for 7+ good innings pretty much every start is a very tantalizing option. Right now the Sox really don't have a certifiable Number 2 starter and I really believe the entire staff, especially the bullpen would be greatly bolstered by adding another front of the rotation, good to great innings-HAeater to the fold.

7) If I had to put my money on the Yankee I think will kill the Sox all weekend, I would have to say that Yankee would be Jason Giambi. He always seems to kill them (career .270 hitter against them with 33 HR and 103 RBI in 163 games) and do you realize that he leads the team in home runs and is second in RBI? No joke. The guy is having a great season and will probably find his way on to the AL All Star team. It's amazing when you think about all that he has put himself through the past few years that he is playing as well as he is. Then again, it is a walk year for him. (And notice I said "put himself through" and not "gone through". Pretty much every piece of adversity that Giambi has faced he has brought upon himself. With that being said, there is something about the guy that I really like. If I could pick one big leaguer to go out for a night of debauchery with, he would probably top my list.)

8) It looks it is so long to James Posey. You hate to see him go, but you have to understand the circumstances too. I know that he could still conceivably re-sign with the C's - and I'd love to see that happen - but if some team out there ponies up four or five years for him and the C's are only offering him between one and three, then he has to take the longer deal right? Because he really only has value to a winning team, where ever he goes the team should at least be decent and with that in mind I figure he will take the guaranteed cash. At 31, this is probably his last chance to score a relatively long term, big money, guaranteed NBA deal and if he spurns the Celtics for money from another top tier team than I really cannot begrudge him. In his shoes, I'd probably do the same thing. His contributions to the team in the regular season and playoffs were pretty comparable with what Keith Foulke brought to the 2004 Red Sox. Ignoring what went on with Foulke from 2005 on, that is awfully high praise for Mr. Posey and he will be missed.

9) Did you all see the item in the Globe the other day about how Sam Cassell wants to come back to the Celtics for one more year and then become an assistant coach on the staff starting in 2009-2010 a la Avery Johnson? A little presumptuous no? Seriously, is there any reason whatsoever that Sam Cassell should be brought back? I really could not think of a stupider move for the team that wouldn't involve bringing back Vin Baker, Raef LaFrentz, and Dino Rajda. Honestly, three months of Sam Cassell damn near brought me to my grave so I can't even imagine what seven or eight months would do.

10) Football season is about 2 months away and quite honestly, I'm still hurting from the Pats Super Bowl defeat. It's tough to get too down on things when I see no reason going into the season that they should not be on the short list of Super Bowl contenders and probably the favorite if not the prohibitive favorite. Still, thinking about 18-1 just really, really sucks. So what is the cure for what ails me? I'd say a rousing blowout victory in Week One against the Chiefs with 250 yards and 3 TDs from Brady including a bomb to Randy Moss, 120 from Laurence Maroney, and a few big hit glimpses of the future from Jerod Mayo. That will do it. That will cure my still festering hangover. Until then though, the ghosts of last February 2 still loom large.

Happy 4th.
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